The pleasure of history

I am inclined to think that history pays its way largely in the personal satisfaction of sitting on the fence and enjoying vicariously the trials and tribulations of men and times now ended; of enjoying the rare privilege of taking sides in their quarrels without in the least bearing responsibility; of sharing the good and the bad alike without the slightest feeling of guilt or a troubled conscience; of taking part in their victories and their defeats without the vanity of the one or the pain of the other; of enjoying their secrets to a degree that few shared them in their own time; of associating with kings and peasants, saints and scoundrels, without anyone questioning the kind of company we have been keeping.

— Avery O. Craven, 1964

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